Op-Ed: Being Black in America

Do not touch something in a store if you are not going to buy it. Do not walk with your hood on at night.  Do not talk back to the police.  Always cooperate with the police.  Never resist arrest.  These are some of the things we black kids have to learn and see at such a young age.  And these are just some of them.  There’s more.

Now imagine living with all these things cycling through your mind every time you step outside your house.  Every time you see the police.  Every time you are in an unfamiliar area.  Being a black person in America comes with a lot of fear, anxiety, and paranoia. The constant fear, anxiety, and paranoia of being the next person to die just because of your color.  Just because you “fit the description” as the police would say.

On May 25, 2020,  46 year-old George Floyd, a black man, died in police custody.  How? You may ask, well… former Officer Derek Chauvin decided to place his knee on the neck of Floyd all while he was already in handcuffs and lying on the pavement.  Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.  9 minutes if you round it up.*  

During those 9 minutes, Floyd repeatedly said “I can’t breathe” until he became unconscious.  Chauvin did not remove his knee from Floyd’s neck even when Floyd had no pulse and was already unconscious.  In fact, a medical examiner said that the neck and back compressions caused a lack of blood to flow to Floyd’s brain.  

Floyd’s death triggered the Black Lives Matter protest that is happening in all 50 U.S states.  Black people are tired of the systematic injustice happening towards black people.

As a human, I already felt hurt and saddened just by watching the video of this killing.  But as a black person, I was outraged at the fact that a human could do this to another human just because of their skin color. And you want to know what the worst part is?  This isn’t the first time a black person was hurt and or died from police brutality.  There’s Philando Castile shot and killed at a traffic stop by a Minnesota officer.  Eric Garner held in a chokehold by an NYPD officer, who died. Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager shot and killed by a Ferguson, Missouri officer.

But wait, there’s more.  Tons more.  At the time, 26 years old EMT Breonna Taylor who was shot eight times (and now dead) while in her home when Louisville Metro Police Department officers raided Breonna’s house, in March, in search of drugs they did not find. Breonna would’ve turned 27 years old on June 5th.

When you continuously see black people die from police brutality or just because they were black (which was the cause of Ahmaud Arbery’s death) it makes you wonder when you’ll be next or if you’re going to be next.  In America and all over the world, black people are seen as the “threats” and the “aggressors” when in reality, we’re just the victims.  The people who are always being targeted.  It almost becomes scary to be a black person in a world where you’re seen as the bad person.  Even writing this article is making me think a lot of things including wanting to cry.

But even though black people are always seen as the villains and are always killed because of racism and white supremacy, I wouldn’t want to change my skin color. For nobody, no reason and especially not if it was thought to be ashamed of being black.  And you know why? Because I’m black and I’m proud. 

 #blacklivesmatter  #sayhername  #sayhisname

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